This is the Most Common Question and Comment:
Is this the real test?
We get this question and comment all the time. Unfortunately, we cannot answer with a simple yes or no. The best answer is: maybe.
Spare us a few minutes and let us explain.
Why the Answer is Maybe
You should not expect to find the exact exam questions on any website, not even on your state department’s official website. Different Departments of Motor Vehicles, DMVs for short, release sample tests only. Questions on these sample tests resembles the real ones, but you should not hope to see the same questions on your real knowledge test (some exceptions exist).
Questions only show you the format and type of questions you may see on the real DMV test. They give you a hint of what to expect.
The practice tests at Driver’s Prep work the same way. We have been in this business since 2007, which is longer than any other website offering free practice tests. We have seen many real DMV tests and read many different versions of your state’s Driver Handbook. We can confidently say that we know what your DMV officials want to ask on the test and what areas they want to cover.
Learn more about Driver’s Prep: Can You Trust Their Tests?
With our experience and expertise, we construct questions that are like the real ones, and sometimes exactly the same. Some of our users come back and say that they recognized almost all questions on the real exam from our practice tests.
But we also stretch it a bit.
Relatively early, we discovered that many of our users tried to just memorize answers. There was no true understanding or true learning. Users wanted to see the real test and tried to just remember questions and answers. Which didn’t really help. The failure rate among our users were around 15% in 2011.
By introducing more challenging questions and encouraging active learning, we cut the failure rate in half in 2013.
We would also like to think that our users became better drivers.
Recognition vs. Recall
Recognition is easy. It is based on a familiar perceptual input. On a driver’s test, test takers recognize familiar phrases very quickly, usually in just a second. Often, with no clear consciousness of why they think the answer is correct.
Recall is harder. Without a familiar perceptual input, you must dig deep into your memory and your knowledge.
Since there are an endless numbers of scenarios that can happen to you on the road, the recognition of words and phrases from the handbook won’t help you much. You need true knowledge. Without it, you are likely to end up in an accident.
We want these practice tests to help true understanding (recall), not to encourage meaningless repetition and memorizing of phrases (recognition). That is why you will see a mix of questions. They are based on the same vocabulary and content as the driver’s manual, but not always the same phrasing.
The Real DMV Test is not Public
Real DMV test questions are not released to the public. They would then lose their value as an exam tool.
Many websites will announce that they have cheat sheets or exam papers with the real DMV test question and answers. It is mostly a gimmick to lure you to their site.
Years ago, old exam papers were widely available, especially for California and Florida. Since then, states have revamped their exams and now use computerized tests. This means randomized tests. Not two exams are the same. Computers also mean that security around the tests has improved.
The Best Thing to Do
Stop looking for the real DMV test questions.
You are probably anxious about the knowledge test. It is OK. Many of us hate the idea of failing. We want to be sure we can pass. In this situation, it is only natural that you want to go after the real exam papers.
The problem is that your permit or driver’s license test is a bit more important than a history test. Safety on our roads depends on everyone’s knowledge about safe driving techniques and common understanding of laws and regulations. A single mistake or misunderstanding when sharing the road with others can be fatal.
Why Knowledge is Important
We already know from research in Great Britain, that even after drivers pass their test, the rules of the road are gradually being forgotten. This causes accidents. Drivers who don’t know and follow the rules is a danger to themselves and to others.
Surveys also show that drivers who end up in accidents tend to blame somebody or something else. These drivers consider themselves more skillful and safer than they are. When involved in an accident, 80% believe that the other party could have done something to prevent the accident. In reality, most drivers made a mistake due to lack of driving experience and/or knowledge about rules.
Safe driving is a combination of driving skills, knowledge, attitude, and experience.
We all know that new drivers are less able to recognize and detect risk, mainly due to lack of experience and knowledge about potential hazards. That is why we have a Graduated Licensing System (GDL) in United States. The system helps young drivers to gain experience before they can drive without a supervising driver.
In recent years, some states have also upgraded their knowledge tests with questions that are more focused on attitude, alcohol and drugs, and distracted driving. With better cars and better roads, DMV and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are simply more concerned with driver behaviors.
States that have recently changed their tests, have also moved from shorter tests to longer tests (more questions).
Even if there isn’t enough evidence to say that longer and more difficult tests affect crash statistics among young drivers, experts agree that new tests are a logical accompaniment to a graduated licensing system. We expect this to have more impact across the country in the future.
Read more: Are Practice Tests Evil?
What You Should Know about the Written Test
Compared to other countries, like Great Britain and Germany, licensing tests in the United States are generally easy. There is also very little variation between states.
Knowledge tests are drawn from a database of questions about road rules and safety practices discussed in the Driver Handbook. You can generally miss 20-25 percent of the questions and still pass the exam.
Requirements include not only knowledge about state laws and regulations, but also about driving procedures, principles, facts, and concepts. In short, everything that helps you operate a vehicle properly and safely, and everything that motivate you to do so.
The goal for DMV is to get a reliable estimate of what you know about the subjects that make up the manual. You are, in other words, tested on the contents of this booklet.
Questions that have Nothing to do with Driving?
Test questions are usually drawn from all parts of the Driver’s Manual. While many subjects may seem irrelevant for your actual driving skills, they are all related to rules and practices that you are supposed to know as a licensed driver.
But I don’t have kids! Why should I know about child restraints?
I never drink alcohol! Why should I care about the effects of alcohol?
From a single person’s perspective, these questions may be relevant. But then again, DMV doesn’t know that you don’t have kids or don’t drink. The test is for all drivers. Things all drivers should know. Regardless.
Remember, if it’s in the manual, it’s related to your driving and it may show up on the test.
Some subjects are perhaps less likely to show up and some are more likely, but there is no way of knowing that for sure.
How to Prepare for the Knowledge Exam
Test failure usually says less about test difficulty and more about lack of preparation for the test.
Applicants who spend at least 10 hours preparing for the test have a good passing rate. With less than 10 hours of preparation the failure rate is around 30 percent.
Before you do anything else, you must get a copy of the Driver’s Manual and read it. It will make your exam a lot easier.
As a rule of thumb, you should use half of your preparation time studying the handbook, the other half taking online practice tests. Practice tests show you if you are ready or not.
Remember, the real DMV test is easy if you just prepare and believe in yourself.